Category Archives: health

Lazy Soup

I never did get to make that soup yesterday. I was diverted by the need to stack the bokashi bucket and clean forgot. Next thing I knew, I had a sandwich in one hand and… a sandwich in the other. It was organic brown bread so I feel reasonably virtuous. Please notice that I’ve avoided the “balanced diet” joke. Well, side-stepped it rather than actually avoided it I suppose.

I did get round to it today though, and it worked out well. It’s a nicely seasoned brownish soup, partly due to the seasoning, which changes the colour from orange.

It’s easy and almost free of effort, hence the title.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Three bags of ready chopped Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash from TESCO. They are three for the price of two at the moment.

Half a pack of ready-chopped onions.

Three cloves of garlic. Chopped.

A piece of ginger about twice the size of the top of my thumb. Chopped.

Two organic vegetable stock cubes (they were on offer).

Two heaped teaspoons of cumin.

Water. How much water? Enough to cover and simmer. Maybe some to dilute.

Method

Soften the onions. I browned them by accident but it didn’t do any harm. Let#s face it, this isn’t Masterchef.

Throw in the rest of the stuff and add water.

Simmer for around 20 minutes.

Use stick blender to reduce to soup. Dilute to taste.

 

I meant to add a red chilli because I wanted to add some heat and some red flecks to the soup. Unfortunately I can’t find where Julia put the chillis when she stacked the shopping.

If you do it with chilli you can probably leave out the cumin, which will give you a much more orange soup, with more heat but less depth of flavour.

It’s so easy I should do it more often.

Normally I would chop my own veg, but a combination of knee and back pain means I can’t stand and cook for too long, At the moment quick is good, even if it does cost more.

Confusion, Rugby and Russia

Took Julia to work this morning, tried to get the mowers started, was unsuccessful. That wasn’t the best start. Sadly, with this being a project run on a shoestring they rely on gifts, and nobody gives a good mower away.

Went to supermarket for cash, walked the length of the car park (that’s my “exercise” for the day) and, as I got to the machine, remembered my wallet was still at home. So I went home, scraped all my change together and rang a taxi.

As I walked into the hospital it suddenly struck me I didn’t have my phone with me. ¬†(This was solved when the lady at reception very kindly rang for a taxi at the end of my blood test).

Short wait, blood rest and good news at last. Well, mixed news, to be accurate. They have interfered with the natural functioning of my body to the extent that my blood now clots so slowly that I can no longer play rugby as the bruising could be fatal, and, like the Romanovs, I am likely to make a bad ruler of Russia. They achieve this by making you eat rat poison.

As I haven’t played rugby for years, and don’t like the idea of Russian winters this isn’t too bad.

The good news is that I can now go to the GP surgery for testing instead of the hospital, will eventually move to four tests a year instead of three a week, and I’m officially less likely to have a stroke.

 

On balance I’m prepared to give up rugby and Russia to lead a healthier life.

Miracles do happen

Yesterday’s visit to the Bee-eaters was about as much walking as I wanted to do, but there was still half a day to fill and it seemed a shame not to use it. I won’t say too much now, as it will be reported in a later post, but I ended up walking so far that I could barely make it back to the car.

It doesn’t sound much, a total of around 2,000 yards, but compared to recent days when even 20 yards were a challenge, it’s a major achievement.

I was expecting to be crippled this morning. I was certainly aching last night. Starting from the top – my shoulders ached from using the stick so much, my back ached, my right hip ached (it’s on my problem side), my right knee ached (and wouldn’t bend or take my weight) and my feet ached. In some cases “ached” is an understatement, but you know me, I do hate to complain.

After talking to a lady at Bempton Cliffs (we spent a few minutes sitting and talking about bad knees) I have started taking two turmeric capsules a day. Result – almost no pain at all in my arthritic feet and a general reduction in aches and pains.

Turmeric is well known as an anti-inflammatory and in my case seems to work.

In addition, I did have a couple of ibuprofen after finishing the walk yesterday, and a couple of painkillers before going to bed.

This morning, I felt like I could leap out of bed and run round like a youngster once more. I managed to resist, but I could have done if I was a leaping and running sort of person.

I can’t put it all down to the turmeric, but it has certainly helped. Now all I need to do is talk to the doctor and anticoagulant clinic about it. I’m sure they won’t like it.

It’s frustrating that after months of taking things easy the solution was to eat curry powder and walk till it hurt.

No photos with this one – pictures of my feet tend not to attract readers. ūüôā

Reflections on life and snack food

The day started badly, with news of the Manchester bombing. I mention it because it seems to be something that should be mentioned, though I have nothing useful to say on the subject.

I think I’ve reflected on this before, and the way we select what goes into our posts. Nobody is going to be reprinting my blog in 100 years and treating it as a valuable social history resource because it’s lightweight fluff and random jottings. However, if I was sitting at a desk with a pen and a book, and a lack of immediate audience, I might be tempted to become serious, or even pompous.

An earlier draft of this post was much more serious, and tried to be meaningful, even profound. However, I soon put a stop to that.

I’m currently watching Secrets of our Favourite Snacks with Simon Rimmer. i’m feeling quite virtuous as I watch, because I’ve pretty much given up crisps and other salty snacks. Apart from nuts, but they are too expensive to go mad on, and are full of nutrients. (That’s a personal view and I would probably struggle to find scientific proof for it. If you follow my nutritional advice don’t bother to ring me from the cardiac ward and complain it’s worked out badly for you.)

I’ve learned three useful things so far – the bigger the container the more you eat, if you are distracted you eat more and there’s a man who writes a crisp blog. Even by my standards that’s a lightweight blog. (The link might not be to the crisp blog mentioned in the programme but it’s the only one I could find.

They then went to Manchester as people in North-west eat the most salty snacks of anyone in the UK. Seems Manchester is fated to be in the news today.

 

The Final Countdown

It’s 9.40 am. I’ve already had my first hospital trip of the week and my time is now my own until 7.30 am on Thursday. At that point (fingers crossed) I should enter the final phase of the operation that has now lasted six weeks. Based on previous experience and the scanty information I was given at the beginning I was expecting it to be over in 3 days. Yes, what an idiot I was.

It is now three days until the operation and seven more before the catheter comes out. I am counting…

Although I’ve tended to concentrate on the urological side of things, as there are ready made elements of pathos and low comedy in that, I’m also been investigated for a range of other problems, all identified on my visit in December.

Take the Great Warfarin Farce as an example. I asked for the tests to be left until I’d finished with the operations but the doctor insisted. It involves visiting a hospital on the other side of town twice a week and eating rat poison. They may call it Warfarin and pretend not to know it has another use but I’ve fed bucketfuls of the stuff to rats over the years. It was first sold as a rat poison in 1948 and as a medicine in 1954. I leave you to draw your own conclusions

I went for my first appointment and I got off to a bad start with the nurse by enquiring why I had to give the same information every time I visited and why they couldn’t store it from visit to visit. She didn’t like that. ¬†To be fair, she probably hears it a lot.

Things worsened when I told her I couldn’t make the next date for testing as I would be in hospital. Basically she called me a liar, and supported this by calling up a copy of my discharge letter to prove it said nothing about part two of the operation.

I suppose she thought I just wore the urinary catheter for fun.

“That,” I said, “is the discharge letter from the emergency admission last week. You need the one from 10th April.”

“Ah!,” she said, “I see.”

However, the operation didn’t happen and I had to stop the Warfarin five days before the next operation. That meant I was on Warfarin for five days.

I’ll cut to the chase – on my last test the nurse, a more practical and cheery individual than the first one – said: “I don’t even know why they started you on Warfarin until after the operation.”

So, I’m off Warfarin at the moment, though Julia has intimated she’s at a point where, if I don’t stop whining about the NHS, she’ll be happy to feed it to me, whatever the nurse may say.

Mad as a Hatter

Sorry, this should have been part of yesterday’s post.

I’ve always known that “mad as a hatter” was something to do with hatters, madness and chemicals but I wasn’t quite clear on the details. I’m currently reading The Elements of Murder¬†(slowly, I admit, but it isn’t light reading) and the book has some interesting details.

I was going to stick a paragraph in about it, as it seemed appropriate and I had a suitably mad photograph. However, having the information and the need to write a post I thought I’d better find more information to fill it out.

This proved to be a mistake. “Mad as a Hatter”, according to some sources, has little to do with madness, and nothing at all to do with hatters.

This is a nuisance, to say the least. According to Wikipedia there are several possible sources for the expression, including the Anglo-Saxons who used the expression to mean venomous as a viper. There are other explanations too. I’m not happy with any of them, nor am I impressed by the references to early usage, without exact dates. However, this is a blog, I’m citing Wikipedia and I’m never going to be mistaken for an academic. ¬†Can we just say “other explanations are available”, and I’ll talk about the one I want?

The Mad Hatter is supposed to be based on Theophilus Carter, an eccentric Oxford furniture dealer and reputed builder of an alarm clock bed exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851. When it was time to get up a clockwork motor engaged and tipped the sleeper into a tank of water. This seems a bit brutal even for stern Victorian early risers.

Unfortunately, though there were two alarm clock beds exhibited in 1851, neither of them was attributed to Carter in the catalogue. Nor, despite Carroll’s extensive diaries, is there any real evidence ¬†that the Mad Hatter is based on Carter. It’s a shame, because it’s a good story.

There is, however, plenty of evidence for hatters exhibiting signs of madness.

The main material used in making hats was felt, which was made from the hair of rabbits and beavers, mixed with mercuric nitrate and repeatedly shaped, boiled and washed until it formed smooth cones of felt. This process released mercury vapour which, went inhaled, caused symptoms such as delirium, hallucinations, irritability, excitability, tremors and depression.

In many countries, including the UK, measures were taken to protect workers from exposure and by the end of the 20th century hatters were no longer suffering the effects of mercury poisoning. In the USA it persisted until 1941, being known as the “Danbury Shakes”, after the hat-making centre in Connecticut. Eventually the need for mercury in the war effort meant the use of alternative chemicals and the end of the Danbury Shakes.

Be that as it may, in the 1860s, when Carroll wrote about the Mad Hatter, mercury poisoning, was a major factor in the behaviour of hatters.

The Good News

Thanks for the comments everyone, working on the basis that a trouble shared is a trouble halved I feel much better already.

I had a call from the hospital this morning. They have fixed me up with a new pre-operative assessment next week, my third (fourth if you count the extra one with the anaesthetist I had to have so they could tell me I was fat) in six weeks. I’m pretty sure this is due to a need to tick a box somewhere rather than the fact I need to be seen. After all, the proof of the pudding is not in the pre-op but in the fact that I didn’t die under anaesthetic during the first operation.

Regarding my weight, I’m fairly sure that could be left to a volunteer, as I don’t think you need five years at university to spot that I’ve let myself go a bit. I may suggest this efficiency measure to them, as doctors clearly have better things to do.

They have also fixed me up with a new operation date in two weeks, though I’m not sure how much faith to put in this. Fourteen days isn’t a massive delay, I suppose, though if I give any of the staff involved in the delay the chance to wear a urinary catheter for fourteen days I don’t suppose anyone will volunteer.

I was lucky they didn’t cancel me the day before the operation. By cancelling on the day for non-clinical reasons they are committed to giving me a new date within 28 days. If they had cancelled the day before there is no such obligation. In the last quarter of 2016 there were¬†21,249 cancelled operations, which is 233 a day.

There are various reasons for cancellation including lack of beds, lack of staff, running out of time, equipment breakdown and administrative error. Looking at it that way, 233 isn’t a lot of cancellations, though last week the man on my ward who was cancelled twice in two days may have had a different view.

I hope the new appointment is right because it’s for 7.30, which means there is no delay and though I miss breakfast I will be on the ward for lunch.

Institutionalised? Me?

The picture has nothing to do with the text, I just wanted to add something cheery to the post. It’s from the Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek.¬†